FC Cincinnati made their third offseason signing Thursday afternoon when the club announced Zico Bailey has joined from FC Helsingør of the Danish second division, AND that the club acquired Bailey’s Homegrown rights from the LA Galaxy in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick and potentially future GAM considerations.
Here’s my take…
Bailey won’t be the starting right back in the season opener on March 1, but that wasn’t the purpose of this acquisition. Bailey’s arrival adds depth, while offering the teenager a chance to continue his development and break into the first team.
Another added bonus is the fullback won’t count against FCC’s salary budget because he still has Homegrown Player status given his age and experience.
If Bailey breaks into the first team, FCC just paid a small price for a young, promising option who will continue to develop. He’s a “project-type” player who can be part of the club’s future plans, while also serving as a critical depth piece in a position that needs more bodies.
How this impacts FCC’s roster…
The Orange and Blue currently have two right backs on the roster: Bailey and Mathieu Deplagne.
There’s also a solid chance Saad Abdul-Salaam will sign after Cincinnati selected him in Stage 2 in the MLS Re-Entry Draft. If he does, those three will be the club’s options at right back in 2020.
What makes this move intriguing…
It could be argued that FCC had to look to rookies too often last season for a variety of reasons, including injuries, lack of depth and roster management.
The Orange and Blue were the only team to start three 2019 MLS SuperDraft picks in a match (Frankie Amaya, Rashawn Dally and Tommy McCabe), and the trio were thrown into a difficult situation with loan recalls and multiple coaching changes on top of the already difficult transition from college soccer to MLS.
That shouldn’t be the case in 2020, as GM Gerard Nijkamp and director of scouting and recruitment Hunter Freeman continue to work to upgrade the roster. These efforts then help create a clearer pathway for younger players to develop.
Even including 34-year-old new signing Haris Medunjanin, the Cincinnati roster is still younger than it was in 2019.
A quick glance at the youth on FCC’s current roster shows 10 players aged 23 or younger:
19 – Frankie Amaya, Zico Bailey
20 – N/A
21 – Tommy McCabe, Hassan Ndam, Brandon Vazquez
22 – Rashawn Dally
23 – Allan Cruz, Logan Gdula, Andrew Gutman, Jimmy Hague
For a team that hasn’t produced a Homegrown Player yet, there’s already plenty of young, promising talent who could be poised for a breakout season in 2020, or be part of the team’s 2021 plans in the West End Stadium.
A few more interesting points on Bailey’s acquisition…
He was with FC Cincinnati as a trialist during the offseason training in October. Those sessions were a chance for Bailey to engrain himself into the team and for Nijkamp, Freeman and head coach Ron Jans to determine if the fullback was worth pursuing.
Bailey arrives from FC Helsingør, a second-division Danish team. The club looks to become a landing spot for young American players and has an American owner and sporting director.